April 05, 2007

Panda NanoScan (Anti–Malware)

Writing about web page http://www.nanoscan.com/

Panda’s free online scanner just got better. Updates after exams!

Key points:
  • Two types of scan – quick scan or total scan
  • Vista support – coming soon

February 25, 2006

Windows Defender

Writing about web page http://www.microsoft.com

Hi all,

Just to point out that Windows Antispyware is now Windows Defender, and the 2nd Beta version is available to download from Microsoft now.

I wouldn't be surprised if future versions turn out to be effective anti-virus tools, too.

January 31, 2006


November 12, 2005

Visual C++ Programming

Writing about web page http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/visualc/download/

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition is free to download (click on the link above) until November 2006!

Unlike previous versions this one allows drag-and-drop form designing.

Note: The interface and implementation seem quite different from previous versions. If you're new to C++, have an older version available as well.

May 24, 2005

Interesting Projects in Delphi

Hi Everyone,

I was just wondering if there are any Delphi programmers at Warwick with any interesting projects. Has anyone done any Windows API stuff?

One of my projects is for controlling FPS games. It uses a low-level mouse hook to intercept mouse messages and generates keyboard events at driver level to control the game. All the inputs for the game are made by holding one of the preset 'function' keys and then using the mouse buttons.

Anyone else got any good Delphi or Windows API projects?

May 22, 2005

Ad–Aware (Anti–Spyware)

Writing about web page http://www.lavasoft.de/ms/index.htm

What does it do?

Ad-Aware will scan your files and computer memory for spyware. If it finds any, you can then automatically remove it.

How do I get it?

Ad-Aware can be downloaded from the web page shown above. When you have downloaded the file from the website, run it to install Ad-Aware on your computer. Just follow the on-screen instructions to make the program ready to use.

How do I use it?

When you have downloaded and installed Ad-Aware, you can run it every time you want to use it by clicking on the desktop icon or via the programs list on the Windows start menu. When you run it you may be asked to download a newer version of the file that helps to find the spyware, so you should agree and follow the instructions on-screen (this process is very quick and simple).

When you have run Ad-Aware you will see the main screen. Click on the 'Scan now' button to get ready to scan your computer for spyware.

To scan for spyware:

  1. Click the 'Scan now' button, as above
  2. Select a scan mode (I suggest the 'smart system scan')
  3. For most users, I would recommend turning off the 'Search for negligible risk entries' option because it is generally not required – if the button is green, click it to turn it off (it will go red)
  4. Click 'Next' to start scanning with the options you selected
  5. When the scan has finished you will see a 'Scan Complete' screen telling you how many spyware items were found
  6. If no spyware was found you will see a green tick and you can close the program
  7. If the program says that it has found any 'critical objects' then you can remove them – see below

To remove detected spyware:

  1. Click the 'Next' button on the 'Scan Complete' screen
  2. Right-click on the list of spyware to get the right-click menu, and then click on 'Select All Objects'
  3. Click 'Next'
  4. Click 'OK' on the confirmation screen to remove the spyware
  5. You can now exit the program

To check for and install updates:

  1. You should check for updates each time you run Ad-Aware – first click the globe icon in the top-right corner of the main screen
  2. Click the 'Connect' button
  3. If an update is found, agree to install it – otherwise just click 'OK' on the screen that pops up
  4. Click 'Finish' on the update screen


  • When the spyware scan starts, you may find that your computer seems to freeze for a few seconds – don't worry, this is just because Ad-Aware is scanning your computer's memory
  • Most users should choose not to search for 'negligible risk entries' on the scan options screen – otherwise Ad-Aware will search items like your recent documents list and will just take longer
  • Don't worry if Ad-Aware finds many 'critical objects' on your computer – in most cases these are simply text files used by advertising websites
  • When you check for spyware for the first time, you may find as many as several hundred 'critical objects' – don't worry though, it is likely that most of these are harmless
  • For most users, one spyware scan every week will be sufficient
  • It's a good idea to check for updates every time you run the program

Note – the instructions above are for guidance only. The software and website referred to are subject to change without notice. Contact the software vendor for comprehensive directions.

May 20, 2005

Panda ActiveScan (Anti–Virus)

Writing about web page http://www.pandasoftware.com/products/activescan/com/activescan_principal.htm

What does it do?

Panda ActiveScan will scan the files on your computer for viruses and spyware. It can automatically remove the viruses, and will tell you about any spyware.

How do I get it?

Panda ActiveScan is a web-based scanner, which means that you use it by visiting a website. The scanner downloads files to your computer, but you need to visit the website again each time you want to use it.

You can run the scan by first visiting the web page shown above. When you get to the website click the 'Scan your PC' button.

How do I use it?

When you have accessed the website and clicked the 'Scan your PC' button a new window will open – you must keep this window open while using the scanner.

Then follow the on-screen instructions to start the download process.

To scan for viruses and spyware:

  1. Click the 'Scan your PC' button, as above
  2. Click 'Next' to accept the legal terms
  3. Type your email address* and click 'Send'
  4. Leave the window open while the scanner files are downloaded
  5. Once downloading is complete, choose what to scan for (under 'Scan options', I suggest you make sure you enable the option to disinfect automatically)
  6. Click what you want to scan to start the scanner (usually 'All my computer')

*At the end of the scan, you will be asked to choose your email program so that results can be emailed to you. The results of the scan will be displayed in the scanner window anyway. Don't worry about spam – Panda will not send you lots of junk messages although they may send a small number of promotional emails.

To remove detected viruses and spyware:

  1. Viruses will be removed by the scanner, if you remembered to choose the option to disinfect automatically
  2. Spyware will not be removed; if it is detected run a spyware removal program such as Ad-Aware
  3. When you have finished you can then close the browser window to exit the scanner

To check for and install updates:

  1. You don't need to worry about updates – the scanner will automatically use the latest version every time you visit the website


  • Unless you want a second opion, speed up the scanning by disabling the spyware detection option – you should use a spyware detection program such as Ad-Aware to stop spyware
  • To speed up the scanning, you could also disable the heuristics scanning option (which can also remove clever but harmless programs, thinking they are viruses)
  • I suggest you use Panda ActiveScan occasionally (say once every month) to be sure that your computer is secure, but you may find it is generally quicker to use a full anti-virus program installed on your computer

Note – the instructions above are for guidance only. The software and website referred to are subject to change without notice. Contact the software vendor for comprehensive directions.

October 18, 2004

How secure is your computer?

If your computer doesn't have these…

  • Firewall
  • Virus scanner
  • Spyware remover

…or they're not up-to-date, you need to take action! To find out more about securing your computer, look at my 'Protect Your Computer' entries. Or if you're an expert on computer security, please add comments with suggestions or improvements!

Any questions? Add a comment!

October 17, 2004

Money–related threats

Phishing is the use of hoax emails claiming to be from financial institutions to obtain peoples' bank or credit card details. A phishing email might claim to be from your bank, asking you to confirm your details. If you were to release your details in this way, your money could be stolen.

You will never be asked by a legitimate organisation to confirm your details by email. Never reply to phishing emails.

Dialers are malicious programs which can connect to premium rate phone lines without your knowledge whilst you are connected to the internet. You may only realise that you had a dialer program on your computer when you get the phone bill! Some dialers can detect when a user has been away from the computer for a while by monitoring mouse and keyboard activities, and will wait until they think they can change the connection without being noticed. Dialers are removed by anti-virus programs such as Norton Antivirus.

Backing up

Backing up your files has got to be the most important protection you can have. You should frequently copy your files onto removable media such as writable CDs and DVDs, flash drives and memory cards, or even floppy disks (unreliable but better than nothing). If your computer were to suffer from failure of hardware (for example your hard disk) or the effects of a malicious program, a recent backup of all your important files could save you hours of work!

You could have a series of say five writable media (such as CD-Rs) for backing up your most important files as you work on them. The media would be numbered 1 to 5, and each time a backup was made the next medium would be used. This system has certain advantages:

  • If you are using rewritable media, you can overwrite the oldest backups and still have several recent ones.
  • The media that you are backing up to will suffer less wear than a single medium would when used frequently.
  • Even backups can fail (for example a CD-R with a label-side scratch, or a corrupted floppy disk) but with frequent backing up with this system you would be pretty much guaranteed a working recent copy of your work.

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